"Ich töte mich...", the legendary debut of Sopor Aeternus (Latin for eternal slumber) constituted for many, myself included, somewhat of a revelation, a portal to a bizarre new world. Your everyday black metal combo may have plundered mum’s makeup kit in order to look as evil as possible, but here came someone who looked like the real thing: a pallid skin already starting to decompose, excruciatingly long, dirty finger nails, shabby clothes. It was no great leap of imagination to picture the artist Varney (named after the 19th century penny dreadful Varney the Vampyre, one of the earlier English vampire stories predating even Stoker’s Dracula) crawling his way out of his hastily dug grave. The music itself sounded so badly produced as if it were recorded in that very same grave with a cheap CASIO keyboard. Quite simplistic, but just as effective. Nevertheless, this album is an absolute classic that should be heard at least once by anyone even remotely interested in dark music.
"Travel on Breath (The Breath of the World)" shrouds the beginning of the record in dark ambient soundscapes, after which the repetitive drum loops of "Falling into different Flesh" kick in, alongside medieval sounding orchestral synths. Varney seems to have a particular affinity towards the ensuing "Birth - Fiendish Figuration" upon which he will return 3 times in the course of his works in various reworkings. It is here that one is confronted with his remarkable, ermmm... voice: inhuman, otherworldly and guaranteed to give you the creeps. "Tanz der Grausamkeit" follows a more classic, subtly eighties-like wave path, in which you can even find the quiet rumblings of a guitar. "Im Garten des Nichts (A secret Light in the Garden of my Void)" is the longest track on the record, clocking in well over the 10 minute threshold. Together with the melancholic "Time stands still... (...but stops for no-one)" it’s again built around medieval keys and tribal drum computer generated beats. Varney even seems to have cleared the graven soil from his throat as he sings relatively normal here. The closing "Do You know my Name?" repeats the theme from "Falling..." and adds some vocals to it.
The original release was limited to 1000 copies and has been proven to be near impossible to find nowadays. Luckily enough it has been re-released 2 times already, with new artwork and a few bonus tracks, some of which were even taken from the first demo Es Reiten die Toten so Schnell (For the dead travel Fast, a quote from a.o. Bram Stoker’s Dracula). The quality of these "fillers" easily measures up even to the regular album albeit with a production that is at least just as terrible. Even though Sopor Aeternus' later works score better in terms of production and execution my somber heart still goes out to this little gem of funerary evocation.